Characterization of interferon-lambda 1 as a treatment for COVID-19

Tyrrell, D. Lorne J | $499,775

Alberta University of Alberta 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Our immune system reacts quickly upon virus infection to induce multiple types of proteins to inhibit the virus and prevent spread. Unfortunately, in COVID‑19 patients, the induction and/or response to one set of antiviral proteins called interferons (IFNs) may be limited. A Canadian clinical trial is treating COVID‑19 patients with one type of IFN, called IFN-lambda 1. IFN-lambda 1 strongly inhibits multiple viruses that infect the lung in animal models, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. IFN-lambda 1 has already been shown to be safe and effective in hepatitis virus infected patients, with less side effects compared to another family of IFNs. IFN-lambda 1 will be given to COVID‑19 patients and we will use blood samples from the clinical study to investigate immune mechanisms associated with viral clearance. This project will allow us to understand how SARS-CoV-2 and IFN-lambda 1 affect our immune system by examining immune cells and plasma from patients before, during, and after IFN-lambda 1 treatment. We will also gain knowledge about how SARS-CoV-2 counteracts our natural defenses, and whether there are ways to predict how well people respond to this particular therapy. Ultimately, we believe the results of our study will be very important for not just therapy of COVID‑19 patients, but also against other deadly viruses that emerge in the future.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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